Unwrapping Holiday Safety Tips

Dec 3, 2021 11:45 AM ET
Home at night shown lit up with holiday lighting.

Originally published on PSEG newsroom

Getting ready for the holidays? While you’re celebrating with family and friends, it’s also important to keep some safety tips in mind.

Did you know that more home fires happen in winter months than any other time of year? According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, more than 65,000 home fires in America start with heating equipment – so get yours inspected.

Holiday decorations that light up our lives are also responsible for an average of 790 home fires each year while an additional 160 fires annually are caused by holiday trees.

Here are the top 12 ways to make things bright – while keeping you safe – this season.

  1. Never overload electrical outlets.
    Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday fires. Avoid overloading outlets and plug only one high-wattage into each outlet at a time.
  2. Inspect all electrical decorations for damage before use.
    Cracked or damaged sockets, loose/ bare wires or loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
  3. Consider buying LED lights.
    Replacing incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR® qualified LED light strands can help you save money and energy. In addition to using 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, they’re brighter, eco-friendly, and are safer, as they are much cooler than incandescent lights. Also, never connect more than three strings of incandescent light as that can blow a fuse and/or cause a fire.
  4. Check decorations for certification label.
    Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL) have not been tested for safety and could be hazardous. Choose decorations that are flame retardant or flame resistant.
  5. One extension cord at a time.
    If adding additional lighting, never extend the length of an extension cord by connecting it with another extension cord.
  6. Use battery-operated candles.
    Candles start more than one third of home decoration fires. If you do use flame candles, do not leave them unattended; remember to blow them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
  7. Keep combustibles, including trees, at least three feet from heat sources.
    A heat source that is too close to the decoration is a factor in two of every five home fires that begin with decorations.
  8. Keep electronics in dry areas and away from combustibles. Phones and tablets, sometimes used to play holiday music, should be kept on a nightstand and not where overheating can catch a blanket or pillow on fire. Also, lights on a fish tank may seem like a cool idea – but keep electronics dry, away from water.
  9. Protect electrical cords from damage.
    To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors and windows, placed under rugs or across walkways or sidewalks, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples (use clips instead).
  10. Turn off, unplug and extinguish all decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house.
    Most deadly fires happen while people are asleep.
  11. Be careful around kids.
    Never let children or pets play with lights, electrical decorations, cords, matches or lighters. Keep batteries stored safely in packages, placed where children and pets cannot ingest them.
  12. Consider upgrading to Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter breakers or outlets. It is estimated that half of the electrical fires that occur every year could be prevented by AFCIs. All upgrades should be completed by a qualified electrician.

Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Energy.gov and National Fire Protection Association